Three (O.K. four) things from Atlantic Hockey action this past weekend:
Canisius delivers a solitary blow
Atlantic Hockey continued to struggle in non-conference games. The league went 1-8-1 out of conference to bring its record to date to a lowly 6-33-4.
The single victory was a dramatic one, however, as Canisius knocked off No. 16 Dever 4-1 at Magness Arena. In the first ever meeting between the schools, the Golden Griffins scored power play, shorthanded and even strength goals to open a 3-0 and never looked back.
“We got great goaltending and had goals from our power-play unit, penalty kill, empty net and 5-on-5,” said Canisius coach Dave Smith. We were very hard to play against tonight, which is the recipe for us to win.”
It was the first time in school history that Canisus had defeated a ranked non-conference team.
There were few bright spots elsewhere. Mercyhurst and Rochester Institute of Technology managed comeback ties at Alaska and Penn State, respectively. The night before, Mercyhurst lost a 4-1 lead to the Nanooks and fell 5-4, surrendering the clinching goal with a minute and a half to play.
History repeated itself for Bentley, which fell 3-0 to Harvard. Just like the game played almost a year ago to the day (10/27/12) , the Falcons had a large Bentley fan contingent make the short trip to Bright Hockey Center to see their team shut out. Last year it was a 5-0 loss.
How they stack up
Here’s a summary of non-conference records so far:
Air Force: 2-2, 5 games left
Niagara: 0-3, 4 games left
American International: 0-1, 6 games left
Sacred Heart: 1-2, 4 games left (including a NC game with Connecticut)
Robert Morris 0-4, 3 games left
Army: 0-2, 2 games left
Bentley: 1-5, 1 game left
Canisius: 1-0, 6 games left
Connecticut: 0-2-1, 4 games left (including a NC game with Sacred Heart)
Holy Cross: 0-5, 2 games left
Mercyhurst: 1-5-1, 4 games left
Rochester Institute of Technology: 0-3-2, 2 games left
In case you’re wondering why the number of non-league games played isn’t the same for all teams, games in Alaska and some tournaments, like the Ice Breaker, are exempted from the 34-game limit. Mercyhurst plays in four extra games this season, so the Lakers have 11 non-conference games. The typical number of OOC games for an AHA team is seven since each plays 27 conference games. Army is playing only 31 NCAA games this season.
It’s very early in the season, but Air Force has already set the tone with home victories over defending champion Canisius (3-2) and defending regular-season champs Niagara (7-4) this past weekend.
On Friday against the Golden Griffins, the Falcons erased a two-goal deficit with three tallies of their own in a 2: 28 span midway through the second period.
Sunday was a wild affair that saw Air Force and Niagara combine for six first period goals. The 7-4 final featured power play, shorthanded, extra attacker and empty net goals.
“We have not been a very dominant team at home the last couple years, but this group wants to change that,” said coach Frank Serratore.” We are off to a good start with four straight wins at home.”
The Falcons lost practice time due to the government shutdown and struggled their first weekend, but have won four in a row since. They’ll plow through the rest of their first games with fellow Western Pod schools over the next two weekends, traveling to RIT and Mercyhurst this weekend and hosting Robert Morris on Nov. 16.
When is a win not a win?
When it comes in a shootout. RIT and Penn State skated to a 3-3 tie at sold out (6,221) Peluga Arena Friday night, and under Big Ten rules a shootout ensued.
In non-conference games the shootout is for bragging rights only. Points are on the line in Big Ten league contests, but the NCAA doesn’t recognize the shootout as a way to settle things, so games using it are considered ties.
It was the first shootout RIT has been involved in a shootout in the 51 year history of the program.
“It was fun,” said coach Wayne Wilson. “We talked about the possibility and picked some guys that had been doing well in practice.”
Rookie defenseman Alex Perron-Fontaine and senior Mike Colavecchia were successful in RIT’s first two attempts, and goalie Jordan Ruby stopped the first two Penn State shooters, negating the need for a third shootout round.